“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”
– Proverbs 17:14 NIV
Keeping in mind my previous post Effective Classroom Management mentioned my belief about classroom management being about the ability to manage people. This ability to manage people is facilitated by my effectiveness to communicate, verbally and non-verbally, with my students in a way that is consistently positive and productive. Positive in relation to tone and choice of words and productive in relation to my ability to be clear, specific and concise in my use of words that consistently influences, inspires and illuminates. When dealing with the Goals of Misbehavior: Power & Revenge this is critical to one’s ability in effectively influencing a student who is aggressive in their behavior to use their ‘personal power’ in choosing to cooperate and conform to the desired behaviors that will enable them to be successful within the classroom community.
My 3 previous posts: 1) Goal of Misbehavior #2: Power Behavior, 2) Insight & Interventions for Power Behavior (both in March 2012 Archives), and 3) Goal of Misbehavior #3: Revenge Behavior (April 2012 Archives) provide both the intervention strategies and silver lining in coping with students who display revenge seeking behavior within the classroom setting. The intervention strategies for Power and Revenge Behavior are called Graceful Exits (author Dr. Linda Albert). The graceful exit strategy Language of Choice (see April 2012 archives) is an effective tool when seeking to engage a student displaying power or revenge behavior.
Careful inspection of the graceful exits will reveal that many, if not all of them, involve verbal/non-verbal communication. Effective classroom management and being an effective manager of people as a classroom teacher requires me to improve my communication skills as part of my development, progress and growth as a professional educator. When dealing with a student displaying power and revenge behavior keep these essential keys in mind regarding communication:
- Remain Calm
- Make Requests not Demands
- Make Statements that are Clear, Specific & Reasonable
- Be Respectful in Tone & Choice of Words
- Allow Student Opportunity to Surrender Position
“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.”
– Proverbs 16:23 NIV
At the conclusion of the ’09-’10 school year, I was faced with the undesired reality of having to return to the classroom after being outside of the classroom for 10 years. I was angry, disappointed, apprehensive, bitter, and unwilling to embrace the reality that was presented before me. Like a child being led by hand wailing from the store not being able to get the desired treat they lobbied for, I entered the 2010-2011 school year hoping a decision would be made to get me out of the classroom, but not enthusiastic about my role as an educator. My lack of motivation to return to my role as an educator was met with an awakening of great alarm and disbelief to what the current state of affairs was regarding the climate of today’s classroom and the amount of disruption that was occurring right before my eyes! ‘Stunned’ is the only word I can think of to explain what I was experiencing, but it fails to express fully how I felt in how I saw students conducting themselves. It definitely did not make my reentry back into the classroom any easier to handle. I survived my first year return back into the classroom setting, but my passion and motivation did not return with me. I tolerated my reality, but I was not motivated to teach. I was still struggling with having to return hoping for a reprieve from God to take me out and put me in a position not involving the classroom.
In comparison to the ’10-’11 school year, the 2011-2012 school year was worse, but not because of the misconduct of the students. I had to leave my role outside of the classroom due to budget cuts at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. At the conclusion of the ’10-’11 school year, I had to be transferred again because the student enrollment required the principal to downsize her staff. My disdain for having to return to the classroom was exacerbated by having to be uprooted at the end of each school year into what was both unfamiliar and unknown. AAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH, is a good way to explain how I was feeling at this point in my professional career! It continued to feel that way during the course of the 2011-2012 school year, because my greater disappointment of enduring, what I felt was unprofessional conduct by the administrative team, only made the transition back into the classroom seem even more of a punishment of my soul. WHY ME GOD? WWWHHHYYY! Then my breakthrough came in two ways I would have never seen coming.
Continuing my attitude of tolerance (maybe intolerance), instead of acceptance, towards having to return to the classroom, I was led to begin blogging. To make a long story short, by the conclusion of the school year, I discovered blogging helped me to embrace the proper attitude of returning to the classroom. Sharing my faith and my experiences kept my mind off of me and made me motivated to come to work, because I needed the internet access (at work only) in order to blog. I actually began enjoying coming to work despite how I felt about returning to the classroom. Then another colleague, without my knowledge, was observing how I was conducting myself with the students in my classroom (she was an aid to one of the students in that particular class). She later expressed to me during the 2nd semester of the ’11-’12 school year that she initially thought I was crazy for attempting to communicate with the students the way I did. She said to me that she thought that what I was doing would not work and later marveled at how my approach, though challenging and difficult at times, was actually working. She commended me and stated that my modeling gave her insight and inspiration to consider employing the strategies in dealing with the adults she was experiencing challenges with within the school community. It turned out we also shared a common belief, through our faith in Jesus Christ, that led to our opportunity to fellowship from time to time during the remainder of the school year as a source of encouragement to keep us going.
To God be the glory! Her compliments were like water for a dry and weary soul, but it gave me the energy and empowerment I would need to conclude the school year and I told her that her words to me were as meaningful, if not more, than what I modeled for her.
Fast forward to the conclusion of the 2012-2013 school year. My 3rd school in 3 years. I was transferred out of the school community I began the 2011-2012 school year (a blessing in disguise) and found myself in what I would consider the ideal school community (Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!) Surely if I had known I would end up where I am today, 3 years later, after having been removed from a desired position outside the classroom, I would have been more accepting, but how good is God to help me grow in the process and use me for His glory to influence and inspire those who were observing me as I struggled to apply His wisdom and principles in my role as an educator!
May God bless you and help you to apply effective communication skills in your role as an educator to inspire, influence, educate and promote positive, productive behavior within the school community.